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Pass the revised acts

Nov 29,2019
The 20th National Assembly is at a crossroads. If it does not pass three revised bills — the individual privacy protection act, the telecommunications network act, and the credit protection act — in a plenary session on Friday, Korea will be lagging far behind other countries in addressing the requirements of the fourth industrial revolution. Among the three acts, the individual privacy protection act was passed by the Public Administration and Security Committee on Wednesday, but the other two acts failed to pass through their relevant standing committees.

We are dumbfounded at the reason why the two bills could not pass the committees. Given the gravity of big data in the fourth industrial revolution, floor leaders of the ruling and opposition parties agreed to pass the sensitive bills on Friday despite their heated political battle. However, due to opposition by a lawmaker from the 12-membered National Policy Committee, the credit protection act could not be passed. The only opponent was Rep. Ji Sang-wuk, a legislator from the minor opposition Bareunmirae Party.

His logic for opposition sounds ludicrous. He argued that the revised act is aimed at “helping companies steal private information from individuals with the connivance of the state.” How can he oppose the act with such anti-corporate and anti-market logic in the age of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, smart factories, and mobility-based enterprises which all demand the use of big data?

The existing credit protection law allowed credit rating agencies to collect information on their customers’ records of payments for health insurance, national pension and utility fees. The revised act has added customers’ credit information on their payments for income tax, property tax and four major pensions. If the revision is passed, many businesses based on customers’ credit information can prosper.
The revision also attached a clause on protecting privacy as much as it can. For instance, it allows customers to use an alias to safeguard their privacy. And yet, Rep. Ji expressed deep concerns about the possibility of misusing customers’ sensitive information on their medical records.

If you go to China or Southeast Asian countries, they are booming with the fourth industrial revolution based on an unrestricted access to big data. If our lawmakers remain stuck in their ways, the burden will be borne by our future generations. We urge the National Assembly to pass the revised acts before it’s too late.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 29, Page 34